The Armor of God for Kids, Part One

I’m always excited when it’s time to teach my class at Calvary Temple about the Armor of God.  When I was a senior in high school (not that long ago, I swear!), it was the topic of our senior class trip to Kenya.  We made the decision to write several short puppet skits that could illustrate the different pieces of armor, and then worked on a simple song to tie it all together.  When we returned from our trip, we were asked to use the same song and skits for the Children’s Church, and the puppet team (as we know it today) was born.

That was almost ten years ago (!!), and we are still going strong.  (I did the math the other day.  Since the puppet team began, we have performed almost 500 times!  And I’d estimate about 150 unique puppet skits with at least 7 different songs.)

The Armor of God, in addition to being nostalgic to me, is always fun to teach the kids.  (I almost feel like God was thinking about them when he inspired Paul to write Ephesians.)  They’re so easy to remember because they each have a very specific piece of armor associated with it.

So far in our series, we’ve covered the first three pieces of armor:

The Belt of Truth.  The Breastplate of Righteousness.  The Feet Shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace (phew!)

Here are some of the ways we helped the kids remember why each piece of armor was important.

With the Belt of Truth, Andy was sent on a special mission for Sir Joe, the Knight.  On his way there, the enemy lures him away from his mission with sweet, yummy donut lies.  In fact, Andy eats so many donuts that he gets too fat to keep wearing his Belt of Truth, and so he is forced to take it off.  But, when it’s time for him to stand up to the enemy, he is unable to figure out what is true and what is a lie.  He nearly fails his mission if not for his mentor, Sir Joe, saving the day.

Just like Andy, sometimes we can fall for the lies of the devil.  Maybe he is telling us that our parents don’t love us, or that they love our sibling more, or that we got unfair treatment at school, or that our friends don’t like us anymore.  Without the Belt of Truth, or our knowledge of God and who He is, we will fall for those lies every time!  One great practical way (that might be easier for some of the older kids) is to speak the truth out loud when you start to feel like you are believing the devil’s lies.  (We have a great example of that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness–every time the devil tried to lie to Him, Jesus responded with a truth straight from the Word of God.)

Next up is the Breastplate of Righteousness.  In this story, Suzie makes her own breastplate from some macaroni she found.  The macaroni represented Suzie’s good works–all the Bible verses she memorized and good things that she had done.  She thought because she had created so many layers of macaroni on her armor that she’d be safe from whatever the enemy could throw at her.  But…she never prepared for the water balloons.  Once she’d been hit by all the water balloons, the macaroni armor she’d been so proud of had grown soggy, and she nearly got hit by the enemy’s arrows.

Trusting in our own righteousness is something that many kids raised in church will fall for.  (And I’m speaking about myself here!)  Many times, because we remained “good kids” most of our lives, we start to trust that all the good things we have done are enough to help us stand against the enemy.  But, the Bible tells us that “none are righteous–no, not one!”  We are saved through faith, and that faith enables us to do all those wonderful things for God.  The only thing we can trust in is that God’s power (through us!) enables us to do great things for Him.  When we put on our Breastplate of Righteousness, we are saying that we are righteous and saved through Jesus’ blood alone!

Last, we have the Feet shod with the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace.  I’ve heard some people call these just the “Gospel Shoes”, but I think that the entire name is important–especially the part about preparation.  Unless we have a good relationship with God (or are prepared ahead of time), we won’t be able to share the gospel with others.

The puppet skit for that week focused on the aspect of peace. Suzie had gotten a new pair of beautiful sparkly shoes, and decided that she would wear those instead of her “Gospel Shoes”.  But, when it came time to tell people about the Good News, she was too afraid to say anything and ran away.

Many times for kids, telling others about Jesus can be a little scary. (I admit it’s even still scary for me sometimes!)  They worry they’ll get laughed at or made fun of or maybe their friends won’t like them anymore.  But, when we are fully prepared, we will be at peace because we have the power of God working through us.

If you’d like to know more about our Sunday School and Children’s Chapel, head over to Pastor Jon’s blog.  And if you live in the Northern Virginia area, feel free to come check us out here!

Calvary Temple Puppets – King Josiah

This week in Sunday School, we taught the kids about King Josiah.  King Josiah was a man who served God with his whole heart.  Many times, kids are allowed to get by with just the bare minimum–as long as they tried, then they’ll get the prize.  (Don’t get me started on participation awards!)

It’s important to always encourage children to do their very best.  (Even if their best is not the highest grade!  As long as they tried their very hardest, that’s all that God wants!)

In God’s kingdom, doing your best means serving Him with your whole heart.  When we do things only halfway–we sometimes pray or go to church–that’s not the kind of relationship that God wants with us.

I think another cool thing about Josiah is that he was only eight years old when he made the decision to serve the Lord.  Kids are capable of more than we realize.

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I thought it’d be cool to share what our scripts look like (that we read off of behind the stage).  Here’s the transcript of this week’s skit:

The Chapel:  King Josiah



Andy’s Mom



Mrs. Humperdinkel


Mom’s Voice:  Andy!!  Andy!!

Andy:  Yes mom!

Mom’s Voice:  Andy, your clothes are all over the floor in your room!  I need you to go and clean them up RIGHT NOW.

Andy:  Ok Mom!!

Andy walks across stage…clothes are hanging off of the side of the stage.

Andy:  Man, how did my mom notice allthese clothes here…man!!!  Oh well, I guess I better start cleaning.

Andy starts cleaning. 

Andy:  UGGHHHHHHH, this is so hard……..WAIT!!!  Why am I doing this?  I can make it look neat by just putting these clothes under my bed!!  My mom will think my room is clean, and I don’t have to spend all afternoon cleaning it!!  BRILLIANT.…if I do say so myself.


(All action behind the stage)

Andy’s mom:  ANDYYYYY!!!!!

Andy – Yes mom?!?!?

Andy’s mom: You are in big trouble, young man!!!!!!! I found the clothes under your bed and that IS NOT WHERE THEY BELONG…. You are in big trouble, mister!

Andy: OH NO!


Denzel – Hey Andy, what’s up?

Andy – Denzel, I just got in trouble for not cleaning my room like my mom told me too. I threw all my clothes under the bed, but I guess that wasn’t what she meant by “CLEAN your room”

Mrs. Humperdinkel:  Okay kids quiet down, I’ve graded your Arithmetic Tests and I have to say that I’m very proud…of SOME of you!!  But some of you need to work a lot harder.  I’m gonna pass out the papers and take a look at your grades.

Denzel:  Hey Andy, what’d you get?

Andy:  Aw, I got a D.  It’s not bad.

Denzel:  A D?  But that test wasn’t even hard.  I mean, I even got a B+ and I’m not as smart you are.

Andy:  Yeah, well, I didn’t really study…Arithmetic is pretty easy anyway.

Denzel:  But don’t you care that you didn’t do your best!?

Andy:  Denzel, it’s just a test, chill out.  It’s not that bad.

Denzel:  But doesn’t God want us to give our best?

Andy:  Yeah, but every once in a while it’s ok to take a break and.. not give our best.  God doesn’t really care about arithmetic tests anyways

Denzel:  UHH I don’t think so.

Andy:  Nah, it’s ok. Don’t worry your little head about it

Mrs. Humperdinkel:  Now class, if you’ll quiet down, I’m going to go over the answers.


Rodney comes out weeping

Rodney:  NOOO.  This is the worst day of the week.  The worst of the year….worst day of my life!!!

Denzel:  What is it Rodney?

Rodney:  It’s that test…I can’t believe it!  I don’t know where I went wrong…I don’t know how I’m going to show my face in public.  And after all that time studying!!  How could I have done that!!

Denzel:  You FAILED!!!!????

Rodney:  I might as well have failed!!

Denzel:  It can’t be that bad.  Let me take a look at your paper….RODNEY, you got an A-

Rodney:  I know!!  My life is over!!!

Denzel:  Um…ok, Rodney, I think we have bigger issues.  At least you gave everything you had.  I think we need to talk to Andy.

Andy comes up

Andy:  Talk to me about what?

Denzel:  Andy, I don’t think it was right that you only studied halfway.

Andy:  Denzel, why do you keep on talking about this…it’s not that big of a deal.  I told you that you don’t need to be concerned.

Rodney:  But Andy, didn’t you tell me earlier today that you got in trouble for only partially cleaning your room? And now you’re only partially studying?   It seems like a bigger issue to me.

Andy:  Rodney, I already got in trouble with my parents.   Why do you have to make a big deal about it?

Denzel:  Andy, we need to give Jesus our all!

Rodney:  Andy, it’s kinda like King Josiah.  Josiah was made king when he was only 8 years old, and he had to make a decision whether to just keep serving false gods, or to do everything as unto the Lord in every way.

Denzel:  Oh yeah, didn’t Josiah tear down all of the idols that the people were serving?

Rodney:  Yeah!  Josiah was so concerned about glorifying God, that he didn’t just serve God halfway.  He gave God everything and God honored him.

Andy:  But guys, I’m not serving any idols!!

Rodney:  But Andy, you’re doing something even worse.  You’re being lukewarm.

Denzel:  Whoa, Rodney, don’t be using words that I don’t understand.

Rodney:  Well, it’s kinda like a glass of water when it’s been sitting out a long time.  It’s not really hot and it’s not really cold.  It’s called lukewarm.

Andy:  What does that have to do with me?

Rodney:  Andy, God’s calling us to be hot after Him.  But He also said that He’d rather you be totally against Him, or cold, than to try to just serve God halfway and not give Him everything.  Lukewarm is only serving God with part of your strength.

Denzel:  Josiah was hot after God wasn’t he?

Rodney:  Yeah.  But Andy, you’re not giving God your all, and you’re not just saying that you’re a heathen.  You’re been being lukewarm.

Denzel:  God says that he hates that even more than someone who says that they don’t love God.

Andy:  Guys, I know you’re right.  I don’t want to give God my halfway.  I need to give my all to God in everyway.  In fact, I’m going to make it right before God.

Denzel:  And then you’ll be hot just like Josiah!!

Calvary Temple Puppets – King Saul

I’ve been attending Calvary Temple Church in Sterling, VA since I was a baby!  Now I’m a Sunday School teacher in the same classes I used to attend!  I hope you guys enjoy some of the lessons and adventures we have in the Sunday School classes at CT!  If you like this blog, you can check out some of our other blogs, including Calvary Temple Kids Chapel, Calvary Temple Youth Group, and Calvary Temple Outreach!

I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year!  It was nice to take a little hiatus and spend lots of time with my friends and family.  Our church does an annual Christmas play with all the kids, and my class were all little elves and bakers!


Pretty cute, huh?

We actually take a break from puppets and regular lessons during the Christmas season to give the kids time to practice all their songs and dances, and any class time we do have, we go over the Christmas story with them.

One story we read every year that is a big hit with the class is called What God Wants for Christmas.  It’s an interactive Christmas nativity story that teaches children what present God wants to get from us.  (Spoiler Alert:  It’s our hearts.)  We’ll read this through several times over the month, and by the end, the kids can recite along a lot of the lines with us.

Starting the new year means we are done with the Parables of Jesus and are moving on to our next unit, the Kings of Israel.  During the next through months, each week we will cover one of the Kings from the Old Testament.  (Even some of the more obscure ones like Rehaboam or Jotham.)

This week, we learned about King Saul.

(This is actually one of my favorite puppet skits we do–there’s a pretty funny surprise near the end.)

King Saul started out pretty well–remember the whole “hiding in the stuff” bit near the start of his reign?

Well, he didn’t end so well.  The main focus of King Saul’s life that we brought out to teach the kids was the story where he had been commanded to totally destroy the Amalekites.  However, King Saul decided to let both the King and some animals live.  When the prophet Samuel arrived and saw what had been done, Saul was quick to defend himself, saying the only reason he kept the animals alive was so that he could give a sacrifice to God.

Samuel’s response was that “obedience is better than sacrifice”.

One of the ways I tried to explain this to the kids was to call up Pastor Jon’s kids, Max and Allie.  The example I used was that Pastor Jon and his wife decide to go out to dinner and leave Max and Allie at home.  Before they leave, Pastor Jon tells the kids to clean up the living room and make it look really nice.

Allie takes a lot of time and does all her chores–sweeping and dusting and picking up her toys.  Max, on the other hand, takes a long look at his Mom’s white couch.  It looks very plain, and he did just get a bunch of new paints for Christmas.  He decides to take all his time to paint his Mom’s couch to be Spider-Man themed.  He figures she’ll really enjoy the pop of color in the living room.

So, Max paints and paints.  After his paints run out, he switches to Sharpies.  And then adds some glitter and silly string for good measure.

When his parents finally get home, Max’s mom sees the couch.  Her jaw drops.  When she turns to Max to ask what happened, he explains.  “I know you said to clean the living room, but I thought I’d make your couch look really good!  Look, I even used all my paints and took the entire three hours you were gone to do it!”

At this point of the story, all the kids in the room are giggling and ooohing.  Everybody agrees that Max has done something wrong.

Even though he worked really hard and gave up all his new paints, it wasn’t the same as obedience to what his parents said.

Many times in our own lives, God tells us to do something.  We might think we know a better way to do what God told us, but true obedience means doing exactly what we’re told.  Using excuses like “We meant well!” or “We thought we did what you wanted!” won’t cut it before the Lord.  He wants our whole hearts and our quick obedience.

Calvary Temple Puppets – The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins

I remember when I was a kid, this parable was really confusing to me.  Things I didn’t understand included:  why did they need lanterns for a wedding?  Why didn’t the wise bridesmaids share with the other ones?  Why couldn’t the bridegroom just recognize their voices and let them come to the wedding?

Recently, I did a little research trying to frame my understanding of this parable so that I could explain it to the kids more easily.

Back in Bible times, weddings didn’t have a concrete start time.  Instead, the bride would get ready at her home (along with all her bridesmaids), and they would all wait together for the groom to come and pick her up for the ceremony.  They didn’t know exactly when he’d come–only that they needed to be ready.

Because the wedding procession might take place after dark, it was important to have their lanterns ready to go–no matter how long it took.  That’s why the wise bridemaids planned ahead–making sure they had extra oil in case the groom took longer than expected.

When the groom finally came, the foolish bridesmaids had to go run out and buy more oil for their lamps, while the rest of the wedding party went along to the wedding.  By the time they arrived, it was too late.  (Kind of like they’d missed the ceremony!  As a bridesmaid, your whole job is to stand beside your friend as you all attend the ceremony.)

The most vital thing to learn about this lesson is not the importance of always having extra batteries for your flashlight.

Instead, what Jesus was trying to teach the disciples was that they needed to be ready for His return one day.

Like bridesmaids waiting for the wedding to start, as Christians, we are waiting for Jesus to come back one day.  We don’t know when it’s going to happen–we just know it will be soon!  God has called us to live lives that are ready for Jesus’ return.

The kind of “oil” that we need in our lives is the power of the Holy Spirit and the born again life that only Jesus can provide.

About Calvary Temple

Calvary Temple is an independent church which holds to all Assemblies of God tenets of faith. Calvary Temple ministries include Discipleship Training, adult Bible college, media ministry, and an aggressive missions program.

Pastor Star R. Scott is Senior Pastor of Calvary Temple in Sterling, Virginia, where he has ministered since 1973. In addition to the pastoral gift, Pastor Scott functions in the five-fold offices of apostle and prophet. He has planted churches, and currently oversees the pastors and ministries of numerous satellite churches.

Visit Calvary Temple online on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram

Calvary Temple Puppets – The Faithful Servants

When I was in school, I used to think I was so busy all the time.  I had homework and chores and sports practices–not to mention all the activities we had up at our church.  (Now, as an adult, I look back on those days wistfully.  I had it so good!)

Many times as Christian adults, we can find our time packed full of good things.  I remember times in my life where I would wake up early to go to work so that I could leave early to help volunteer at a Calvary Temple sports camp and then go to prayer and then wrap up with a skit team practice.  In my mind, I’d spent the entire day doing things for the Lord.

In this week’s puppet skit, Denzel has a similar experience.  He has homework, extra credit book reports, Scriptures to memorize, and chores to finish.  Each of his friends ask him for help, but he’s just too busy to give them any more of his time.

It’s only after hearing the parable of the faithful servants that Denzel realizes that he needs to make sure that he is putting Jesus first in all he does.

GL: Well actually, Denzel, you also need to work on this.

Denzel: What?! I’m doing all good things!

GL: You are, but the Bible warns us to not be weary in well-doing. Sometimes, we can get SO busy doing SO much, that we lose sight of doing what glorifies God! I heard that you couldn’t come to the Africa prayer meeting because you were too busy…

Denzel: Yeah, but…

GL: And you couldn’t help Wendy find her dog, George…

Denzel: But, I had to—

GL: And you didn’t have time to praise Jesus with Suzie. Denzel, you do such a good job with your homework and helping others, but you need to make sure that you’re not so busy with the things in life, that you miss out on things like personal devotions and being available to help others! We don’t want you to be so tired that you aren’t able to glorify Jesus in everything you do! We all need to be careful that we’re not just doing good works for others, but that we’re doing it for God!

Denzel: (sighs) I guess you’re right. I didn’t even realize how busy and stressed I was. I’m really going to try to live by that verse from the parable, “Let us not become weary in doing good…”

GL: There’s the spirit, Denzel! When we have Jesus in our hearts, we should never be stressed about everything we have to do, either! If we’re doing everything as unto the Lord, then He will help us to have peace in our hearts!


The last line that Grandpa Louie says is so important for me personally.  I can get so caught up in all the things I think I need to do for God that I don’t take the time to just be with God.

I’ll leave you with an example that I remember a Sunday School teacher showing us when I was in elementary school (or possibly even younger!)

In this video, the rocks represent our time with the Lord.  The rice represents all the things we have to get done.  When you put the rocks first, you’re able to fit in the rice as well.  But, when you pour the rice in first, you’ll never be able to fit the rocks as well.

It’s so important to not just teach our children this principle, but to live it out in front of them.  Let them see that you take time to seek God or to read your Bible–even if you have errands or cooking to finish for the day.  Show them that your priority is your relationship with the Lord, and help them understand that while it’s important to be productive for the Kingdom, it’s more important to get quiet with God.

Calvary Temple Puppets – The Good Samaritan

I’m a pretty easy going person.  I get along with most people I meet, and I would rate myself a 9/10 on the nice scale.

But, I once nearly threw my Bible at someone while a Wednesday midweek service at Calvary Temple.  Pastor Scott was teaching about something that was undoubtedly very important for my spiritual growth, but I was too busy seething at the person behind me.

I’m sure you’re trying to imagine what they were doing.  Sneezing on my hair?  Kicking my chair?  Doing that weird whistle thing when you breathe out of your nose?


They were coughing.

But it wasn’t a real cough.  I can understand if someone legitimately has a cough and can’t help it.  Instead, it was a “black lung, pop!” kind of cough.

And it never stopped.  The entire service, it was these little “keff keff” kind of coughs, right in my ear.  By the time Pastor Scott had finished his sermon, I had pictured seventeen different ways to muffle this person with a scarf/coat/tissues/Bible/stray alpacas.

Looking back, it was so stupid.  But I guarantee, if after service, that person had tapped me on the shoulder and asked me for any kind of help, I probably would have asked how their “black lungs” were doing and then have pretended to need to pee.  (Pastor Jon, are you really sure you want me writing a Calvary Temple blog?  These are not pretty confessions.)

I was not being a good neighbor.

One day, a man asked Jesus what he needed to do in order to obtain eternal life.  Jesus asked the man what the Bible said the answer was, and he said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Then, the man took it a step further–asking Jesus who was considered to be his neighbor.

In response, Jesus told a (drumroll) parable.  A man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and along the way, he was robbed, beaten, and left for dead.  We all know how the rest of the story goes–three different people passed this beaten man, The first two were even religious–the kind of people you’d think be jumping to help someone in need.  But, they both passed him by.

It wasn’t until a third man–the Samaritan (and someone that most Jews hated)–passed by that help came.

Jesus then asked the man who he thought was a neighbor to that beaten traveler.  The man responded correctly–the good neighbor was the Samaritan–the one who stopped to help.

All this talk about neighbors made me think of one of my childhood heroes–Fred Rogers (better known as Mister Rogers!)  Of course, I don’t know for sure, but Fred Rogers left a legacy of a man who appeared to have a very close relationship with God.  (My writing concentration in college was Creative Non-Fiction, and this piece on Mister Rogers’ life is one of my favorite essays of all time.  There’s some not-nice language, but I think it paints a really lovely picture of his life, his faith, and his impact on children.)

I also liked this little anecdote I read in a Christianity Today article:

[Fred Rogers speaking] “I studied Greek with him [Dr. Orr, a teacher of theology] and then I studied New Testament with him. Every Sunday, my wife and I used to go to the nursing home to visit him. One Sunday we had just sung ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God’ and I was full of this one verse. I said, ‘Dr. Orr, we just sang this hymn and I’ve got to ask you about part of it.”

“‘You know where it says—The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him. For, lo, his doom is sure. … one little word will fell him? Dr. Orr, what is that one thing that would wipe out evil?’

“He answered, ‘Evil simply disintegrates in the presence of forgiveness. When you look with accusing eyes at your neighbor, that is what evil would want, because the more the accuser’—which, of course, is the word Satan in Hebrew—’can spread the accusing spirit, the greater evil spreads.’ Dr. Orr said, ‘On the other hand, if you can look with the eyes of the Advocate on your neighbor, those are the eyes of Jesus.’

“I’ve never forgotten that.”

We can sometimes be a little legalistic–thinking that the only neighbors we have are those we live next door to or those friends we are around every day.  But according to Jesus, our neighbors can be anyone we come into contact with who need our help.  It’s not up to us to judge who is worthy of our help–we’ve just been instructed to love as Jesus has loved us.

In the puppet skit this week, Wendy and Suzie are hiding from a little girl they both find annoying.  They don’t want to be her friend, and they certainly don’t want to be her neighbor either.

Just like me and my little cough incident described above, we can sometimes find petty, inane reasons to dislike people.  How shameful that Jesus has commissioned us to go out and love everyone, and we’re too busy being annoyed at the little things.

I’ve had the chance to talk to some of the kids in my Sunday School class about this.  I teach preschoolers (so three and four year olds), and we sometimes have incidents where kids aren’t very nice.  One situation that happens a lot is one of the younger kids will start following one of the older kids around–trying to sit near them or copy whatever they do.  And, of course, the older kid inevitably gets frustrated and comes to tell me all about it.

It’s always a great opportunity to remind them how kind and loving Jesus is.  Even if someone is annoying to you, consider it a great opportunity to be a friend to someone who needs it.

I think of that Bible verse from John 13:35:

“Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other.”

What better way is there to be a witness of Jesus than to show love for your neighbors?

Calvary Temple Puppets – Let Your Light Shine

My love of working with kids was severely threatened when I began waitressing during college.  The excitement I used to get at interacting with children was put to the test whenever a family with little kids would walk in the restaurant and head towards one of my tables.  See, while those kids were here, they would rule that restaurant.  They’d throw everything near them–crayons, cups, food.  They’d scream.  They’d talk at the top of their lungs.  They’d peek their heads over the back of their booth and stare at the party behind them all while menacingly dropping spaghetti into a stranger’s purse.  They’d curl up with their iPad and play Angry Birds at ear-splitting volumes.  (Why do you need to hear the birds in order to play?  That game requires no sound at all.  NONE.)

One family in particular stood out to me.  They were one of the last tables of the night, and the husband and wife had three children under the age of ten with them.  I plastered a smile on my face and prayed that I wouldn’t end the night on my hands and knees, trying to dig all the orphaned Cheerios out of the seat cushions.  But, instead of a hellish experience, the children were…amazing.  They said please and thank you.  The older ones spoke quietly with their parents while the littlest one colored on the place mat (only on the place mat, and not all over the table/sugar packets/menus).

Finally, by the end of the meal, I was able to say (honestly) how wonderful it’d been to serve them.  Their children were so well-behaved and polite.  I remember the dad smiling at me and telling me that they were Christians, and that they wanted their children to be a reflection of Christ’s character.

I was basically like..

How cool was that?  That family had a great opportunity to share Jesus with their waitress simply because she was so amazed at how well behaved the children were.

That’s part of what we wanted to teach our kids with this week’s puppet skit–how to be a light to all the world.

In this skit, Suzie accidentally hurts her little brother Andy, and he’s so angry that he refuses to forgive her.  But, after their fight, Andy tries to witness to a nearby kid, but the kid (Grover?  Champ?  Ad-libbing at its finest, folks!) doesn’t believe him.  See, he’d just been mean to his sister, and didn’t really act like Jesus at all.

Andy learns about the story of how a light, hidden under a basket, can’t be seen.  What good is being a light then?  If you can’t see the light, it’s not worth anything.

One of our great Sunday School teachers did a good job of explaining this principle to our youngest class–the 3 and 4 year olds.

It’s good to train our children to behave in public, but do they know why it’s good to behave in public?  The way we act is a direct reflection of Jesus!

To quote our Sunday School teacher above, “When Jesus comes into your heart, you become like a light!”  You are able to shine your light onto other’s lives so that they can have the light for themselves!

What are some practical ways that you help your children learn how to behave in public?  Do you have any good stories about times you’ve seen kids behaving (or not behaving) when they’re out?

Calvary Temple Puppet Team – The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Pastor Forbe, one of our Calvary Temple pastors who now lives in Africa as a missionary (he blogs about his life here), is one of my favorites to listen to.  He has a funny story for every situation.  So, when I asked him for stories from his childhood about times he did something really bad, he was more than happy to share.

There was a time when I thought I would “help” my dad learn how to swim. So I pushed him into the deep end of the swimming pool. He didn’t know how to swim, and his brothers had to save him. That didn’t end well for me.

And then there was the time when I saw my Mom’s wedding rings laying around and thought that they needed to be put somewhere “safe”. So I put them somewhere safe. One week later and one proper beating, we found them.

Pastor Forbe’s stories had me laughing, so I texted my Mom and asked her if I had ever done anything like that when I was little.  Her answer (I swear, this was her answer) was Gosh, you were such a good kid.  I’m really reaching here.  (I know a few Calvary Temple teachers who might disagree with you, Mom…)

I did have a penchant for hiding. She remembers me hiding very well on two occasions.  Once, I went inside one of those circular clothing racks at a store, and I stayed totally quiet.  Mom said the entire store was looking for me and calling my name for a half hour, and finally once they got really frantic, I popped out and was laughing.  The other time, I hid inside our house, and stayed hidden for so long that Mom thought I’d been kidnapped and called the police.

When you were a kid, did you ever do something so incredibly bad that you were convinced your parents were going to disown you?

In this week’s puppet skit, Andy learns about the Parable of the Prodigal Son when he accidentally ruins his dad’s new sports car.  Andy is terrified to admit what he did, and he is convinced that his father will never forgive him.

What Andy learns from the Parable is that no matter what terrible things a son does, a father will never stop loving him.  When the prodigal son truly repented and came home with a humble heart, the father was happy to accept him back into the family.

Now, do you think that son got a new inheritance?  The Bible doesn’t tell us, but it’s possible he didn’t.  When you teach this story to your children, it’s important to remind them that there are always consequences for our actions.  Even though God (and our parents) will always love and forgive us, it doesn’t mean that we never see punishment for what we’ve done.

It can be mind-boggling to think of everything I deserve for my life.  I’ve made some terrible mistakes and decisions–some that everyone knows about and some just between me and God.  If I truly saw all the consequences for all my actions, my life would not be that fun.  We know the Bible even tells us that the wages of sin is death.  All the forgiveness in the world doesn’t change that fact.  How awesome it is that we serve a God who not only forgives us, but also shows us such amazing mercy!

I think there are two important points to this parable that you can share with your children.

1.  Love and forgiveness is always available.  Be someone your children can trust in and talk to when they make mistakes.  If you lose your temper or act harshly every time they admit their faults, then pretty soon, they’ll never want to be honest with you again.  But, if you are someone who responds like the father in the parable (and like Jesus does with us), it will strengthen your relationship.

2.  There are consequences for our actions, but there is also mercy.  When your kids do admit their mistakes to you, be clear that in some cases, there will need to be consequences. Discipline doesn’t mean you don’t love them, but it is a reality they will need to learn as they get older.  I remember in the (very rare) times I needed to get spanked by my parents, they would explain to me what I did, and why I was getting spanked.  I knew my parents never hit me because they were angry or hated me, but because I needed to learn that my actions had consequences.

PS:  Pastor Scott, our head pastor at Calvary Temple, probably wins for one of the funniest kid stories.  When he was little, he once took a BB gun and shot everything off the walls at his house.  As angry as I’d be, I’d also probably think it was hilarious.  How do kids’ minds work?!

PPS:  Please share some of your funny stories!  I’d love to hear them.

Calvary Temple Puppet Team – The Rich Man and Lazarus

Before we get to everyone’s favorite part (those wacky puppets!), I wanted to share some semi-recent, wacky things that I’ve heard in my Sunday School Class that I teach at Calvary Temple in Sterling, VA.  I teach pre-school along with a great team of teachers and friends, and we constantly find ourselves trying to hold back snorts of laughter at the things the kids say and do.

Here are some recent gems:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, we do not need to be roaring or growling right now.”

“Please stop licking the table…and no, we do not lick our neighbors either.”

Teacher:  “Hey, guys!  Who is the captain of God’s Army?”
Three Year Old:  “SATAN!”
(Oh geez.  Pastor Jon is going to fire me from teaching.)

This next one is an oldie from one of the kindergarten teachers:

Teacher:  “Does anyone know what Mary found when she looked inside Jesus’ tomb on Easter?”
Five Year Old:  “MAGGOTS!”
(Yeah, we’re seriously all going to be fired.)

Teacher:  “Okay, so whoooo remembers who died for our sins on the cross?  This one is really easy!”
Three Year Old:  “MOSES!”
Teacher:  “Nooo.  Try again.  Think really hard!”
Three Year Old:  “…Gabriel?”

(Okay, seriously, please don’t can me.  I love doing this!)

On to the puppet show.

This week, we learned about The Rich Man and Lazarus.  This is a pretty intense story for kids.  (I mean, some of the imagery is kind of gruesome.  You’ve got a sad, starving man.  A dog licking his wounds–which, seriously, don’t ever tell your kids that part.  I remember being fascinated by that part, and when I was little, after scraping my knee, I chased our poor dog Ruby around the house to see if she wanted to taste.  She did not want to taste my knee, so I figured I would do it instead.  Yes.  This is a story about how I licked my own skinned knee.)

Where were we?

Right.  Sad, starving man.  Miserable life.  Poor Lazarus.  He can’t catch a break…and he eventually dies after the Rich Man refuses to help him out.  But, the happy ending to Lazarus’ story is that he escapes his suffering and gets to hang out in Abraham’s Bosom, while the Rich Man dies and gets really thirsty/hot/tormented in Hell.  (Again, this is really weird imagery for kids.  Bosom is just a weird word in general, and the thought that some guy wanted to hang out in another guy’s bosom baffled me.  Abraham’s Bosom is….a place?  Or he was actually chilling with Abraham.  I don’t know.  And I’d like to think I have bigger issues in Hell than getting really really thirsty.  This is probably the point where I get fired again, only this time by my Youth Pastor, Pastor Jeff.  Or he could laugh at all this.  He understands weird thought processes better than most.  Once in Youth Group, he told this story equating the parable of the talents to taking care of puppies, and I cried laughing.)

Listen.  I’m super caffeinated this morning (what else is new?) so I know I’m rambling a lot.  There’s a point to all this.

Lazarus was a good guy, had a terrible life, but his eternal reward is heaven.  The Rich Man had a pretty awesome life, but he was a bad guy, and his eternal reward was hell.

Sometimes, our lives aren’t fair.  We covered this a little bit last week with the Parable of the Tares.  But, even if your actions in this life don’t have immediate consequences, they will always have eternal consequences.  Sometimes, good people have bad things happen to them.  But, what gives them hope is their faith in God’s Promises.  He will work all things for good, even if we don’t understand.  We’ve been promised eternal life and happiness, and focusing on those principles can help get our minds off our own temporary situations.

The same thing applies in reverse.  Sometimes, bad people have really great lives.  Nothing bad seems to happen to them.  They make tons of money and live well and do whatever they want.  But, God’s promises also apply to them.  Jesus said “whoever believes on me will not perish but have everlasting life”.  So, if you live a life that is not surrendered to Jesus, your eternal consequences are…not as fun.


Okay, so now that you’ve finished, I’m sure you’re going to be really worried if I’ll be back blogging here last week after all my confessions.

Well, let me just save by spot by recounting my interaction with Pastor Jon‘s six-year-old son last night.  He noticed that my niece was watching the video of the puppet skit on my phone, and made a huge face.  See, this lovely little boy is very vocal about hating the puppets (even though, we all know, deep down, he loves them so much).  So, I asked him for suggestions on how we could make the puppet show something he likes better.

His response?  “Don’t do them.”  Sounds harsh, but he has the cutest little voice that it sounded like the least threatening thing possible.  Plus, he died laughing after he said it.

Trying not to laugh where he could see me, I asked him if he had any real suggestions.  (At this point, Pastor Jon’s daughter had made her way onto my lap to squish next to my niece to also watching the puppet video.)

His son looked very serious for a second, and then said.  “You should make all the puppets into Angry Birds.”

I laughed, and his daughter said, “No!  Please do Andy’s makeup all pretty!”

Andy is our boy puppet.

I’m pretty sure we’ll not be putting makeup on Andy, but maybe I can make the Angry Birds cameo happen.

Calvary Temple Puppet Team – Parable of the Tares and Wheat

Continuing our series about The Parables of Jesus in our Calvary Temple Children’s Church, we taught about The Parable of the Tares and Wheat.

This week, our puppets are facing a bully.  A not-so-nice boy named Chad has been wreaking havoc on the playground, pushing Andy off the slide and calling Wendy Wide Load Wendy (the horror!)  The kids are confused why someone like Chad is still allowed to come to church.  After all, he clearly is a terrible person.

To help them out, their Uncle Joey tells them about another parable of Jesus titled The Parable of the Weeds.

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells us about a farmer.  (This seems to be a theme with these parables!)  The farmer planted seeds in his field, but during the night, bad men came and planted weeds.  They wanted to ruin his crop.

Some time later, once the wheat began to grow, the farmer’s men noticed that there were tares (weeds) growing up with the wheat.  Some thought they should go through and pull up all the weeds, but the farmer told them to wait until the wheat had fully matured.  At this point, the roots of the wheat was entangled with the roots of the tares, and if they pulled the tares out, they risked hurting some of the wheat as well.

The solution was simply to wait until the wheat fully matured. Then, once the wheat was all cut down, they could separate the bad plants from the good plants.

In the case of the bully, the kids wanted the same thing.  (“Rocks and scorpions!” seethed one of the puppets.) Kick Chad out of church because he was obviously a bad person.

But, the parable taught the kids that it wasn’t up to them to decide who was deserving of salvation and love.  If Chad was kicked out, he might never have the opportunity to learn he was wrong and repent.

This can be a hard lesson for kids to swallow.  We are naturally instilled with a very strong sense of what is fair.  Do something wrong, and you need to be punished.  (Now, obviously as parents, it’s important to discipline your children when they do something wrong.  The spirit behind this parable is more to encourage us to leave the judgement to the Lord.  We are so undeserving of the mercy we’ve received from Jesus, and how can we not want to extend that same mercy to others?)

When you find your kids starting to be angry with their friends or be frustrated with what’s fair, encourage them to remember how much Jesus loves that individual.  Ultimately, God is the one that will judge the right and the wrong.